“`Upon this, I looked around—-and there she was! There at my shoulder, almost touching me with her clothes, gazing at me with her horrible little eyes, displaying the gloomy cavern of her mouth, fanning herself in a mocking manner, as if to make fun of my childish alarm.
“`I passed from dread to the most furious anger, to savage and desperate rage. I dashed at the heavy old creature. I flung her against the wall. I put my hand to her throat. I felt of her face, her breast, the straggling locks of her gray hair until I was thoroughly convinced that she was a human being—a woman.
Making believe to cry
`“Meanwhile she had uttered a howl which was hoarse and piercing at the same time. It seemed false and feigned to me, like the hypocritical expression of a fear which she did not really feel. Immediately afterwards she exclaimed, making believe to cry, though she was not crying, but looking at me with her hyena eyes:
`““Why have you picked a quarrel with me?”
`“This remark increased my fright and weakened my wrath.
“`“Then you remember,” I cried, “that you have seen me somewhere else.”
““T should say so, my dear,” she replied, mockingly. “Saint Eugen`s night, in Jardines Street, three years ago.”
“`My very marrow was chilled.
““`But who are you?” I asked, without letting go of her. “Why do you follow me? What business have you with me?”
“`“I am a poor weak woman,” she answered, with a devilish leer. “You hate me, and you are afraid of me without any reason. If not, tell me, good sir, why you were so frightened the first time you saw me.”
`““Because I have loathed you ever since I was born. Because you are the evil spirit of my life.”
`““It seems, then, that you have known me for a long time. Well, look, my son, so have I known you.”
““`You have known me? How long?”
““`Since before you were born! And when I saw you pass by me, three years ago, I said to myself, that’s the one.”
““`But what am I to you? What are you to me?”
“`“The devil!” replied the hag, spitting full in my face, freeing herself from my grasp, and running away with amazing swiftness. She held her skirts higher than her knees, and her feet did not make the slightest noise as they touched the ground.
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